Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Alex Loveless

Full Length Musical, Drama  /  5f, 6m

From the novel by Thomas Hardy
A musical by Alex Loveless
Additional musical arrangement and original orchestrations by Christopher Ash
Orchestrations adapted by Andy Smith

Set against the beautiful background of nineteenth century Wessex, Thomas Hardy’s masterpiece is brought thrillingly to the stage in a new full length musical adaptation, full of drama, colour and passion

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

by  Alex Loveless

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  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    5f, 6m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Period
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Children (Age 6 - 10)
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Tess of the D’Urbervilles is the story of a farm girl and what happens after she discovers the truth about her family’s illustrious heritage. Tess is seduced by the wealthy Alec D’Urberville and bears him a son who dies in infancy. She later marries Angel Clare, a gentleman farmer, but he learns of her past with Alec and abandons her. In order to support her family, Tess agrees to become Alec’s mistress. When Angel returns, Tess murders Alec in a fit of passion. The police track Tess and Angel to Stonehenge. As Tess is led to the gallows, she imagines what life could have been had she never had discovered her ancestry…

Tess of the D’Urbervilles is scored in a ‘through-composed’ style. The score incorporates a range of musical styles, from folk and church music to operetta. Containing timeless themes, including the sacrificial nature of true faith and virtue versus moral absolutism, religious dogma and fanaticism; the place of women in society; and an examination of the true nature of nobility; Tess has lost none of its power or relevance since its first publication.

First produced in 2014 at the New Wimbledon Studio Theatre by Stepping Out Theatre in Association with Partisan and Fallen Angel Theatre


Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Tours
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups
  • Youth/Camp Programs
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: Victorian (British and American), 19th Century, 17th Century
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Additional Features: Stage Combat, Special Effects
  • Features / Contains: Elaborate / High Volume Costumes, Period Costumes


Tess of the D’Urbervilles is set in and around rural Wessex in the late 19th Century. The work was originally performed on a composite set suggestive of villages, country mansions and standing stones.


5f, 6m
Cast Attributes
  • Ensemble cast
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
  • Expandable casting
  • Roles for Teens
  • Flexible casting
  • Room for Extras
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
  • Parts for Senior Actors
Costume is mainly reflective of the rural working class. Parson Tringham, Parson Clare and Alec all require parson’s robes.

At least one period policeman’s uniform is required. The Clares are an austere middle-class family, excepting Angel who dresses as a gentleman farmer. Alec dresses as a fashionable country gentleman.

Mrs D’Urberville dresses as an upper class gentlewoman whereas Tess transitions into finery by the end of the piece. A wedding veil is also required.
Casting Notes

The above casting represents the minimum number of players with which the piece can be performed. This relies on ensemble members playing multiple roles. There is much potential to expand this piece for larger cast sizes by allocating these roles separately, with many scenes and songs containing an ensemble element.


  • Musical Style: Folk, Operetta
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Chorus Size: Medium



Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:

1 Full Score

13 Keyboard / MD / Vocal Scores (Casting is expandable - additional books available on request)



Flute 1

Flute 2






Please note the sample tracks below ar
e unedited live audio files recorded during performance.


‘The Loveless brothers… have brought great sincerity to their storytelling… surging power ballads… very well delivered … a compelling centre to the show…’ Mark Shenton, The Stage

‘…superbly conceived and realised …there is so much to admire in this production… the fusion of the Victorian Novel and Musical Theatre is remarkable.‘ Broadway World

‘…musically stunning ….haunting songs …a beautiful musical.’ British Theatre Guide

‘Boasting a charming score… a welcome addition to the roster of new British book musicals.’ Musical Theatre Review

‘…astonishingly good. …stunning ….thoroughly enjoyable…’ Plays to See

‘…a dramatic triumph …an absolute joy to watch… If you are looking for depth, fantastic acting, great movement, sublime singing and music then this is the show for you.’ London Theatre 1

‘…a wonderful evening of storytelling. This beautiful new musical… has a perfect blend of a new score, great book, talented cast and winning direction.’ A Younger Theatre

‘…an exciting and accessible production… The musical score with its notable numbers will leave you humming …a glorious afternoon.’ UK Theatre Network

‘…wonderfully fresh and dynamic …a masterpiece, not only of musical intensity but also of outstanding stagecraft …a beautiful new musical… ‘ Jonathan Baz 

‘…sheer enchantment from start to finish… songs that could easily become standards…’ Remotegoat

‘…the best new musical to hit the Off-West End stage in years… Awarding ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ five stars seems stingy… I haven’t been this bewitched by any musical since I first watched Boublil and Schönberg’s ‘Les Misérables’. This is a musical that tugs the heartstrings and won’t let go. It’s divine work.’ Mellowday London

‘… a magnificent performance.’ The Upcoming

‘…this fine musical …this is a first rate affair worth seeking out without delay.’ Reviewsgate

‘… atmospheric and melodic …a bold and well told story.’ Stage Review 

‘…thoroughly engaging …this is something incredibly special.’ Ginger Hibiscus

‘… a wonderful musical evening.’ The Londonist – Tess of the D’Urbervilles ‘A rich, dramatic, and inventive score …really great new British musical writing.’ Grumpy Gay Critic

Song Samples

Tess Audio Reel
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Children of the Earth
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I Saw Your Face
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I Hear Your Voice
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I Could Never Love You
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Dog Days
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Until My Heart Is Free
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Dairy Song
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I Deal in Ideals
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Will You Marry Me
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Pretty Tipple
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A True Christian Woman
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The Belly of the Beast
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The Folly of My Youth
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Carry Me Home
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Stony Ground
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Scene - The D'Urberville vaults
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Make Your Descision
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Once, I Was Yours
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You Lied To Me
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Now Isn't Over
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Alex Loveless

Alex trained in musical composition at the London College of Music and is the composer / lyricist / librettist of Tess of the D’Urbervilles (New Wimbledon Studio Theatre, 2014), Bel-Ami (Watermans Theatre / Charing Cross Theatre, 2014), The Remains Of The Day (Union Theatre, 2010 – Evening Standard’s Critics’ Choice / ...

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